Young brown teal
PHOTO: Sabine Bernert ©


The brown teal/pāteke is a small dabbling duck endemic to New Zealand. They are the rarest waterfowl on the mainland.


New Zealand status: Endemic
Conservation status: At Risk (Recovering)
Found in: Mainly Great Barrier Island, Northland, Coromandel
Threats: Predation, habitat disturbance, hunting

Species information: Brown teal on NZ Birds Online

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Pāteke conservation

Our rarest waterfowl

The species has suffered an ongoing decline in numbers and range since the late nineteenth century. There are currently estimated to be between 2,000 and 2,500 pāteke living in a wild state in New Zealand, making it New Zealand’s rarest waterfowl species on the mainland.

The pāteke were once widespread throughout New Zealand. They are now rare and restricted to Great Barrier Island, coastal valleys of eastern Northland, and several other locations around New Zealand where new populations have been established using translocated birds.

These sites include several predator free islands, Tawharanui (east of Warkworth), the Coromandel Peninsula, Cape Kidnappers and the Clinton-Arthur Valley in Fiordland.

The main populations are at Great Barrier Island (where approximately 900 reside), Northland (where around 400 reside), and Coromandel (where at least 300 reside).

At risk

Pateke were listed as "Nationally Endangered" until 2008, when the conservation status was changed to "Recovering". This was due to an increase in the number of pāteke around New Zealand.

Pāteke are still at risk of extinction if the threats to the species are not managed. These threats include:

  • predation from introduced mammals such as cats, dogs, mustelids (e.g. stoats)
  • predation by native predators such as pukeko
  • habitat loss through wetland drainage, forest clearance, and estuary reclamation
  • hunting
  • road kill
  • dry spring and summer conditions which reduce food abundance
  • competition and hybridisation with mallards.

In combination these factors have a significant negative impact on pāteke.

Approaches to recovery

To return pāteke to a viable level we, as a community, need to bring about full recovery of the species and become involved in the recovery process.

There are four main approaches to recover pāteke nationally:

  • predator control
  • habitat restoration
  • captive breeding and release of birds to form new safe populations
  • raising public awareness to the threats and management opportunities that exist in assisting the species to recover.

The long-term recovery goal is that pāteke are not threatened and are an icon of instream and wetland health, and of conservation-friendly farming practices. 

Current work by DOC on pāteke includes:

  • securing pāteke at key sites on Great Barrier Island and Northland
  • establishing a new large population of pāteke in Moehau Kiwi Sanctuary and the Clinton/Arthur valley in Fiordland, using captive bred birds
  • supporting landowners and landcare groups to establish populations at other sites including Cape Kidnappers, Tawharanui, and Tutukaka
  • habitat restoration, maintaining pasture levels at suitably short lengths and fencing livestock out of nesting areas, providing zones of riparian vegetation along streams and ponds.

You can help

For more information contact:

Nigel Miller
Pāteke Recovery Group Leader
DOC Whangarei Office
Phone: +64 9 470 3300

Emergency hotline

Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife. 

Help protect our native birds

When visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes
  • Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
  • Check your gear for mice and rats when visiting pest-free islands.
  • Leave nesting birds alone.
  • Use available access ways to get to the beach. 
  • Avoid leaving old fishing lines on beaches or in the sea.
  • Follow the water care code and local navigation bylaws.
  • Don't drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.
  • Avoid visiting riverbeds early September to late January when river birds breed.
Other ways to help
  • Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
  • Volunteer with DOC or other groups to control predators and restore bird habitats.
  • Set traps for stoats or rats on your property. Get more information from your local DOC office.
  • Put a bell on your cat's collar, feed it well, and keep it indoors at dusk/dawn and at night.
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